With fantasy regular seasons approaching the end, it’s time to find guys who can provide a few hot weeks to help you in the stretch run. If you’re a borderline team, you may have to be aggressive dropping struggling veterans in favor of new, less established names. There has been another influx of callups. Let’s see who might unexpectedly help you finish strong.
Seth Lugo is a 33-year-old RHP who has spent his first 7 MLB seasons with the Mets. Throughout his time with the Mets, he had 38 total starts, but he was primarily a solid reliever.
In 2023 all 23 of his appearances have come as a starter. He’s not exactly been great as a SP, pitching to a 3.80 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and 17.1% K%-BB%. However, since June 25th his Swinging Strike% has steadily increased from about 7.5% to 11.0%. He started throwing his four-seamer and curveball a lot less while increasing his sinker usage. What’s odd to me is his fastball and curve are two of his better Swinging Strike offerings while his sinker has just a 3.6% Swinging Strike%. That’s 22nd percentile. He must just be maximizing his whiff offerings when he throws them. (If I weren’t coming back from a wedding at the time of this writing maybe I’d try harder to find a better answer to this).
Verdict: Legit based on matchups: Lugo is scheduled to start at Oakland, at home against the Rockies, and at San Francisco. I’m not sure if there are better matchups out there. In the future, I don’t see him being much more than an average starting pitcher, but with those matchups down the stretch, he could certainly play a big role in winning you some fantasy playoff matches. He is rostered in just 54% of Yahoo leagues.
Michael King is a 28-year-old RHP who has spent all of his 5 MLB seasons with the Yankees. In the minors and first few MLB seasons he dabbled as a starter before becoming a full-time reliever last year. He was dominant in 2022 with a 2.29 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 25.1% K%-BB%,
Due to the Yankees’ need for starting pitching recently, King started to be stretched out on August 8 against the White Sox when he threw 35 pitches. In his most recent start, his pitch count was up to 79.
In the 56.2 IP prior to being stretched out, he had a Stuff+ of 114. Since then it’s been 116. The Stuff+ numbers of his four-seamer, sinker, and sweeper have largely remained the same over this period. Not only have his velocities not dropped since becoming a starter, they’ve actually increased slightly.
He’s decreased the use of his sweeper in favor of the sinker. This is likely due to the poor Zone% (32.1%) of the sweeper vs. the sinker (56.8%). You might be able to get by throwing so many sweepers out of the zone as a RP, but not as a SP. This has allowed his BB% to remain the same, while actually seeing a slight increase in K%.
Verdict: Legit. King’s ability to maintain his stuff and velocity while also tweaking his pitch usage to something more appropriate for a starting pitcher are very good signs. While Nick considers him something of a Toby, he did have 9 Ks in his most recent game against the Brewers and his Swinging Strike% has also increased about 2 points. I would count on him to provide a few decent starts down the stretch, although it looks like he’ll have some tough matchups against the Red Sox and Blue Jays. Long-term, I’m curious to see what the Yankees do with him. It’s easier to find relievers than starters. He’s rostered in just 42% of Yahoo leagues.
Ronny Mauricio is a 22-year-old switch hitter who is the Met’s 4th-rated team prospect and 58th overall according to FanGraphs. He was graded as having just a 30/40 Hit tool, but 60/70 Raw Power. MLB Pipeline gave him a 45 Hit tool. The power grade makes sense based on his home run numbers in the minors, but he posted decent batting averages also, so maybe his Hit tool is underrated.
He only has 30 MLB PAs so we have very little to go off of, so we’ll look at metrics that stabilize quickly and see how they align with his minor league numbers. His Max EV is already 117.3 mph, 99th percentile. That certainly corroborates his Raw Power grade. His K% is 20.0% and that is about what he averaged in the minors. That also suggests a Hit tool better than 30/40, or even 45. His Sprint Speed is slightly below average, but he did steal 20 and 24 bases in the minors the last two years.
Verdict: Take a shot. Mauricio has very good power and possibly a better-than-expected Hit tool. The Mets are going to play him every day, he has no reason to not be aggressive on the base paths, and word on his weaknesses at the plate won’t have time to get around. Rostered in just 25% of Yahoo leagues he could be a real difference-maker down the stretch if you need to take some chances.
Featured image by Doug Carlin (@bdougals on Twitter)